By Jerry Shenk
“Betteridge’s Law of Headlines” is an aphorism stating, “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word ‘no.’”
That’s true of today’s header, as well as earlier headlines such as “2017: America’s worst year ever?” and “Is there a 12-step program for Phillies fans?” But one end-December 2016 headline was an exception to Betteridge: “2016: Funniest political year ever?”
Politically, 2016 was hilarious! Donald Trump’s election was a belly-laugh, a well-deserved poke in the collective eye of self-entitled Washington political and media elites convinced that the natural order of things includes their rights to govern and control the narrative.
President Trump was elected without their permission, indeed, over their objections, so, because voters rejected the judgment of their self-styled betters, Washington insiders consider Trump’s election illegitimate and are working assiduously to undermine his presidency.
President Trump is vilified by Democrats and media, but also by GOP-Lite “elites,” all of whom are infuriated when President Trump meets their attacks with vigorous counterattacks, an entertaining habit to ordinary Americans who have endured years or, in some cases, generations of lousy governance, biased media and elite condescension.
But, things that were amusing in January 2017 are less funny now.
Media and political elites have lost credibility among large segments of the voting population, because, among other reasons, in contesting President Trump’s legitimacy, they are really denying the legitimacy of the people who elected him.
Author Kurt Schlichter observed that, pretending power sans accountability, elites believe the real problem is regular Americans like “you [who] want to have a say in our government and…look what happens when you do. You elect the wrong people. People like Trump.”
Clearly, Washington’s bipartisan clubbies would have preferred a lousy president who’s “one of us” to a president who “just isn’t our kind.” But Americans had a bellyful. Americans needed an advocate.
“Elites,” everyone, must face facts: President Trump was inaugurated nearly two years ago, so constantly re-litigating Trump’s electoral legitimacy is ridiculous. Honestly, would a thoroughly-corrupt, truth-challenged Hillary Clinton, an avatar of greed, privilege, entitlement and influence-peddling, have made a better president or merely another caretaker for an unaccountable establishment?
Professor Glenn Reynolds wrote: “[Trump is] a symptom of how rottenly dysfunctional our sorry political class is. Take away Trump and they’re just as awful and destructive. He just brings their awfulness to the fore, where it’s no longer ignorable.”
Donald Trump’s “vanity” candidacy prevailed in the Republican primaries, because enough voters found his style and message refreshing. Rejecting an unthinkable alternative, many who voted for him in November 2016 held only modest expectations for a Trump administration. Then, in 2017, everything changed.
President Trump has fought, primarily for conservative principles, in ways Americans have rarely seen Republicans fight. Trump’s judicial nominations alone changed minds and made converts.
Voters expect elected officials to perform. Washington’s smug insiders haven’t performed, so America elected a promise-keeping, combative outsider who beat Hillary and revealed millions of Americans’ doubts about the Washington mediocracy’s self-assumed “legitimacy.”